Alarms blared from cellphones, radios and public speakers and fishermen hurried back to shore in northern Japan on Thursday after North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile above its eastern waters, adding to a recent barrage of provocative weapons demonstrations that officials say may culminate with a nuclear test in coming weeks.
The launches are the latest in a series of North Korean weapons tests in recent months that have raised tensions in the region. They came a day after Pyongyang fired more than 20 missiles, the most it has fired in a single day ever.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it detected the North firing an ICBM from an area near its capital Pyongyang around 7:40 a.m. and then firing two short-range missiles an hour later from the nearby city of Kacheon that flew toward its eastern waters.
The longer-range missile appeared to be fired on a high angle, possibly to avoid entering the territory of neighbors, reaching a maximum altitude of 1,920 kilometers and traveling around 760 kilometers, according to South Korea’s military.
Japan’s military announced similar flight details. It also said it lost track of one of the North Korean weapons, apparently the ICBM, after it “disappeared” in skies above waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. South Korea said the short-range missiles traveled about 330 kilometers, falling closer to North Korea’s eastern coast.
One of the more than 20 missiles North Korea shot on Wednesday flew in the direction of a populated South Korean island and landed near the rivals’ tense sea border, triggering air raid sirens and forcing residents on Ulleung island to evacuate. South Korea quickly responded by launching its own missiles in the same border area.